No larger than a nickel, Spring Peepers return each Spring to Pequot Swamp Pond to mate and lay their eggs.
Open, marshy areas such as Pequot Swamp Pond are now filled with the sound of Spring Peepers. These frogs are about the size of your thumb, but don’t be fooled by these little guys as they can be quite loud! The males are the only ones that call using a high-pitched “peep” that can be deafening in spring. Many people describe their call as the sound of sleigh bells. Even when I have quietly stood still in a marsh, surrounded by hundreds of calling males, I can rarely spot one. The purpose of their large vocal sac is not to amplify their call, but to make sure it can be heard from all directions. This ventriloquist-trick makes it seem that the calls are coming from everywhere at once. But, the females manage to find them.
Spring peepers are tan or brown in color with a dark X on their back. This cross pattern adds to their Latin name crucifer or cross-bearer. This tiny species has large toe pads for climbing, but is most often found in the leaf litter of the forest floor.
How wonderful that with our saving The Preserve, these little jewels can migrate to and from their breeding sites without the risk of crossing roads, driveways, and chemically treated lawns draining into their breeding grounds.
With the thermometer reading 18° this morning, it is hard to believe that within a few weeks the loud quack-like call of male Wood Frogs will be coming from The Preserve’s vernal pools. What is still harder to believe is that right now those frogs are frozen. Yes, actually frozen solid. Wood Frogs are one of the only vertebrates to evolve this ability. Continue reading
The Red-backed salamander can live over 30 years.
With a few recent days that edge over 40°, the wildlife of the Preserve (like the rest of us!) is anxious for Spring. A true dawn chorus of bird calls is growing, and no doubt nesting sites are already being scoped out.
But it is not just the birds. Under the snow, under the leaves, amphibians are patiently awaiting the spring thaw, such as this Red-backed salamander. Our woodlands’ most common salamander, it also the most common vertebrate. Unlike many other salamanders, Red-backs don’t have an aquatic larval stage. Eggs laid in the leaf-litter hatch out teeny-tiny salamanders.
Shy, docile, Red-backed salamanders can live over 30-years, assuming their habitat is still around. They are another reason we need to do all we can to save the 1000 acre forest. Preserve the Preserve
Learn more about the Red-backed salamander.